Palos Verdes High School | Los Angeles Conservancy
Palos Verdes High School
Photo by Lisa Gruber

Palos Verdes High School

Palos Verdes High School was only one of hundreds of school buildings constructed during Southern California's explosive postwar population boom, but it may be the only one located within a block of the ocean. Its scenic location led to some design challenges, particularly regarding the placement of numerous large buildings on a vigorously windswept plateau.

In 1959, the Los Angeles Unified School District hired architects Richard Neutra and Robert Alexander to work with local Palos Verdes architect Carrington Lewis on the design for the new high school. The architects were constrained somewhat by the requirement to use clay tiles on the rooftops and the need to provide protection from the ocean winds, but they produced a lovely and functional campus. Its buildings combine the clean lines and simple volumes of Mid-Century Modernism with the more traditional elements of gabled tile roofs and stucco walls. They are arranged in rectangular patterns shielding landscaped interior courtyards from the wind, and sit on two distinct terraces stepping down the 37-acre site. The larger multipurpose and physical education buildings were built of tilt-up concrete, while the rest were wood-framed and clad in stucco. Even on the more traditional-looking classroom buildings, Neutra couldn't resist using his trademark "spider leg" metal supports on canopies, leaving his distinctive mark on the campus.

Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Jordan High School

Boasting five structures from the school's earliest period, between 1925 and 1927, each seismically retrofitted and renovated with a unifying PWA Moderne style following the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.
Stone Canyon Residence
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Stone Canyon Residence

This home is a wonderful example of Richard Dorman’s work that reflects strong Mid-Century Modern design principles.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Backus House

A modest, two-story Mid Century Modern house in the midst of sprawling Bel-Air mega-mansions, the Backus House is one of architect Greta Magnusson Grossman's earliest projects.